Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

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Marshall Miles Away: Monument to Honor Plane Crash Victims

Hood+%28%2333%29%2C+Sanders+%28%2340%29%2C+VanHorn+%28%2375%29+and+Wilson+%28%2387%29+were+all+killed+in+the+1970+crash.%0A
Courtesy of Marshall University
Hood (#33), Sanders (#40), VanHorn (#75) and Wilson (#87) were all killed in the 1970 crash.

The Marshall-tied memorials of four Tuscaloosa, Alabama, natives will soon stand tall, pending approval from city council members.

Joe Hood, Larry Sanders, Robert VanHorn and Fred Wilson lost their lives in the 1970 Marshall plane crash. Their hometown’s city council proposed to build a monument at the newest YMCA facility on Tuesday, June 11.

The proposed monument will be located on the grounds of the new Benjamin Barnes YMCA facility currently being built.

Construction broke ground for the facility in West Tuscaloosa last October. The monument project will add over $300,000 to the construction job.

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Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox said that the disaster hits the city close to home.

“The plane crash of the Marshall University football team on Nov. 14, 1970, is not only one of the most tragic moments in college athletic history, it has become one of the more memorable,” Maddox told the Tuscaloosa Thread. “Besides Huntington, West Virginia, Tuscaloosa had the most student-athletes who were lost in that plane crash.”

All four of the football players previously walked the field at Druid High School before continuing their athletic careers at Marshall. 

In addition to the four, native Reggie Oliver also played at Druid, and although he was on Marshall’s roster in 1970, he did not play and was not on the plane. 

In short, there are a few invisible history strings tied between Huntington and Tuscaloosa. 

Kay Day, the city’s arts and entertainment director, said that thinking of the four should be a positive remembrance.

“These four young men from Tuscaloosa were struggling, and they were able to go to Marshall University and have the opportunity to play football,” Day said. “I think we focus on the way that they were living their lives, not the way they lost their lives tragically.”

Day also said that the monument will bring awareness to the city, saying that most citizens likely don’t realize the men are buried there. 

If approved, the monument will be sculpted by Caleb O’Connor, an artist who has worked on various public art projects in the city.

O’Connor hopes to see the monument accomplished with the YMCA’s grand opening in December 2024. 

With full approval from the city’s projects committee, the memorial of the four now rests in the pending response of city council members.

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